Toner strikes make difference
Down 2-17 Derry 1-14
Down got the perfect start to the year as their more experienced players - especially Danny Toner - took control after the break at Celtic Park.
There was little between the teams before Toner grabbed the first goal on 20 minutes. Down soon had a 1-6 to 0-4 lead but Derry responded through four Alan Grant frees to bring it back to a one-point deficit before a brace of points from Paul Sheehan gave Down a 1-9 to 0-8 interval lead.
Toner's influence was growing for the visitors as he registered the first score of the second half. Grant replied but on 43 minutes. Toner had his second goal after drilling a low finish to the net to establish a 2-10 to 0-9 lead.
Down controlled the final quarter and always had enough to keep a Derry side not lacking in fight at arm's length. Oisín McCloskey received a second yellow card for a tussle with Caolan Teggart before substitute Breandán Quigley grabbed a consolation goal for Derry.
Scorers - Down: P Sheehan 0-10 (8fs); D Toner 2-2; D McManus 0-4; R Branagan 0-1. Derry: A Grant 0-10 (9fs); B Quigley 1-0; O McCloskey 0-2; N Smyth, M Kirkpatrick (f) 0-1 each.
Down - S Keith 7; B Byers 7, C Teggart 7, M Hughes 8; J McManus 8, M Fisher 7, L Savage 7; C Bailie 7, D Toner 8; R Branagan 8, D McManus 8, P Og McCrickard 7; M Magee 7, P Sheehan 7, E Sands 7. Subs: M Conlan 6 for R Branagan (65); A O'Prey 6 for E Sands (70); O McManus 6 for D Toner (70).
Derry - M Kirkpatrick 6; C Murphy 6, D McCloskey 7, E Gilmore 6; P Cleary 7, C Steele 6, J Phelan 7; J Mullan 6, N Smyth 6; A Grant 8, O McCloskey 7, T Magee 6; D Cartin 6, N Waldron 6, O McKeever 7. Subs: A O'Donnell 6 for O McKeever, (48); B Quigley7 for D Cartin (57); S Higgins 6 for N Smyth (57)
Ref - S Hynes (Galway)